If you have not watched The Walking Dead episode “Thank You” Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. Seriously, you’ve been warned. Turn back.
One last chance…step away from the webpage.
Okay, after watching the episode several times, I have some thoughts. Shocking! I hear from the peanut gallery. Hush now! I loved “Thank You” and it will probably go down as one of my favorite episodes of the show. But let’s talk about Glenn’s death. Cuz I’m conflicted.
This is what The Walking Dead does brilliantly: unexpectedly kill people off. Whether it’s Dale under the moonlight in the field or Beth and Dawn in the hospital corridor, you never see it coming. The series of events that caused the death are only seen in retrospect. Carl screwing around with the walker in the bog. Beth picking up the scissors and slipping them into her cast.
Nicholas’ breakdown in the face of his failings.
As much as I don’t want Glenn to be dead, the writers pulled the trigger and wrote him a gorgeous exit. One we haven’t seen before on the show. Normally, the important people are present; It’s Dale, surrounded by the entire group, before his excruciating pain ends through an act of mercy. Maggie and Beth trapped inside a fence while their father is beheaded. There is always someone left to tell the tale. Someone to remember the end.
Glenn died with the only other witness left to tell his story. Maggie will live forever in the dark in regards to Glenn’s last moments on this earth. And that’s brave of the writers. It’s something I don’t see often on television. When someone dies, there’s always a witness. Viewers want closure, they want closure for the characters. Nobody wants Maggie left in the dark. Her life is already weighed down in tragedy.
How long would they stay looking for Glenn? Remember Sophia? They didn’t give up until she shuffled out of Herschel’s barn. Glenn’s death seems senseless in retrospect. Beth died the moment she became someone strong enough to survive the zombie apocalypse. When Rick kills Shane he realizes that the world changed irrevocably while he lay in a coma; there’s no place left for a man who lives completely in the light.
“Have you ever been covered in so much blood that you didn’t know if it was yours or walkers’ or your friends’?”
Michonne says this to Heath before it plays out in the zombie pit from hell with Nicholas and Glenn. Glenn is literally covered in so much blood and we don’t know if it is his or Nicholas’. But Glenn didn’t go down fighting. The character known for his ability to get in and out of any situation, died with no way out.
Glenn’s death would rock the entire group, especially given the fact that’s he’s been with the show since day one. There aren’t many characters left from those first few episodes: Rick, Carl, Carol, Daryl; everyone else is dead and gone. As much as I loved the character, this wasn’t losing Bob, it was Herschel and Beth. But so much worse. From his first dumbass to his last, Glenn brought hope to the ever-changing group. We’ve seen him go from the pizza delivery boy to a survivor hero who never took a human life.
“We all have a job to do.”
When Glenn quoted Herschel, explaining the plan to Michonne, a big flashing neon sign popped up in my mind. I’d been suspecting Glenn might not be long for this world since I read the spoiler that a fan favorite would die this season—I haven’t read the comics, so I was* blissfully unaware of Negan and Lucille—I just had a feeling that the writers were about to punch us in the gut. I kept hoping it would be Sasha. I mean, she’s awesome, but I’m not near as attached to her, not too mention last season she seemed to be courting her own death. I was prepared for Sasha.
Then Glenn pulled out Herschel’s watch and I knew.
I don’t want it to be true, I love Glenn and I never realized how much until the moment he fell into the alley of death. While he lay there, covered in blood, my heart shattered in slow motion. I thought about him dying alone with no one to bring back his story to Maggie.
I wondered how Maggie, who’s already lost her father and sister, would manage to survive this latest tragedy. I thought of Rick and his kinship with Glenn that started with a tank and a herd of walkers. Glenn brought Rick back to his family. I thought of Michonne, who didn’t want them to split up. About Carol and Daryl and how they’ve grown beside Glenn into leaders of the group.
With Beth, we lost hope. With Herschel, wisdom. With Glenn, we lose that sense of belief that these characters can make it out of this with their souls intact. He never stopped believing that he would survive to make it home to Maggie. That they would fight, together, not only the mega herd descending on the town, but also anything else that stepped into their path. That they would build Alexandria into a town where life could return to some semblance of normal.
I want Glenn to be alive. For Maggie and Rick and Daryl and Carol and Michonne. For Judith and Carl. For the group and for the future.
I don’t want him to live if that means the writers are simply saving his death for another day**. Glenn died because of the breakdown of one man’s hope, there is something starkly beautiful in that. His swan song will haunt those that remain behind.
(please don’t let him be dead.)
*I have now looked up who Negan and Lucille are. If you don’t know, don’t do it. I wish I were still blissfully unaware, but I’m not. And now I have all these theories. And the possibilities hurt me deep in my soul.
**I also think that if Glenn isn’t dead, somebody else important is. And it’ll be someone like Carol or Daryl or Maggie.